03 August, 2014

Beware The So-Called "Marketing Expert" Who Has Never Read A Book On Marketing Or Branding

A client once asked me to find them a new Marketing Director. This search assignment was one of the most eye-opening and memorable of my headhunting career because, while I received resumes from and interviewed dozens of so-called "marketing experts", people who were earning salaries as high as $150,000, I was absolutely astounded that almost none of them actually knew much about marketing even though they were currently being paid to know about marketing at other companies. 

Almost none of them knew anything at all about branding, which is one reason I wrote about it in my July 21 and July 23 posts. See archives.

I asked every candidate to tell me about a marketing book that had influenced them. I expected to hear about books by Reis  Trout, David Aaker, Rivkin & Sutherland, Scott Bedbury and Marty Neumeier. Oddly, two people mentioned the 80s bestseller, Iacocca - which isn't a marketing book  - but most of them hadn't read a marketing book or any other business book since college when they were required to read one if they majored in business. 

Of the few candidates who had read a marketing book since college none had read a book on branding , which was a pity since my client had a major branding problem. My client's "elephant in the room" branding issue was so obvious that I was surprised when none of my so-called "marketing experts" could see it. 

If these these highly-paid "marketing experts" had read a book on marketing perhaps they would have known things you'd expect every marketing expert to know like the fact that a trademark isn't a logo unless it has letters in it (since the word "logo" comes from the Greek word for word.) 

Oh, by the way, my college Marketing book (circa 1980) didn't say anything about branding so even if your "marketing expert" majored in marketing, don't assume they know anything about branding.

Beware the charismatic, smiling "marketing expert" who can't name you a single book they've read on marketing or branding. And if your company, organization or cause has a branding problem that you can see, make sure your "expert" can see it, without being told,  within minutes of meeting with you. You might be surprised how many can't.

If your company or cause or organization isn't getting the marketing traction you'd expect, maybe it's time you considered the possibility that your marketing expert is a fraud. 

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